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Today we want to share the latest on your rights as a part-time employee during the coronavirus pandemic.

In our last feature, we spoke about full-time employee rights and what to expect if you are a full-time employee.

Part-time employees are described as those who work less than 38 hours per week. Part-time employees are usually on a permanent or full-time contract and work the same hours each week.

Part-time employees are entitled to most of the same rights as full-time employees.


What are your rights as a part-time Australian employee during the coronavirus pandemic?

  • Part-time employees cannot be discriminated against if they are unwell and cannot face termination if they need to take time off work for the purpose of self-isolation
  • Part-time employees can work from home if an agreement is made between employer and employee. The Fair Work Ombudsman encourages employees to review their obligations contained in enterprise agreements, awards, employment contracts and/or workplace policies
  • Part-time employees are entitled to fair minimum notice periods as per their contract, as well as pay to cover notice periods and holiday days
  • Part-time employees are entitled to a fair discussion with their employer in regards to directed annual leave by cause of coronavirus. Some employers can require employees to take paid annual leave without an agreement. Check the relevant award or enterprise agreement to better understand your rights when it comes to directed annual leave
  • Part-time employees have the right to three days notice should their employer wish to change their duties or responsibilities. This notification should be submitted to the employee by the employer in writing unless both parties have agreed to a shorter notice period
  • Part-time employees are entitled to a safe working environment that prioritises their wellbeing.

Your employer may have the right to change your hours, location or duties without consultation, so make sure you read your contract, and aim to engage in open, honest conversations with your employer so you know what’s ahead.

The Fair Work Act was amended on April 9, 2020 to support the implementation of the federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

The purpose of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme is to support both employers and employees who have been significantly affected by the pandemic. Part-time employees are eligible to receive JobKeeper payments, however, both the employer and employee must meet certain criteria.

Businesses and not-for-profits with turnovers of less than $1 billion a year and a 30% loss in revenue are eligible for JobKeeper payments. Businesses and not-for-profits with turnovers of over $1 billion a year and a 50% loss in revenue are also eligible for the scheme.

Part-time employees who have been employed for 12 months with a permanent employer are eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment. Part-time employees who were made redundant after March 1, 2020, will be eligible for the JobKeeper payment provided their previous employer is willing to re-hire them.

Part-time employees who maintain the same hours will receive the same payment as full-time employees, $1,500 per fortnight.

Under the JobKeeper scheme, employers are entitled to:

  • Ask employees to change their hours and days of work
  • Ask employees to change their duties and responsibilities
  • Change an employee’s work location
  • Direct employees to take paid annual leave
  • Temporarily reduce an employee’s hours of work.

Read: Will coronavirus cause a recession in Australia? | The most recent forecasts

Peter Fray

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